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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 July, 2003, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Bush's inbox harder to reach
President George W Bush
Contacting the president has become much more complicated
Getting through to the US president online has become trickier after big changes to the White House's e-mail policy.

Visitors to the president's website are encouraged to use a web-based mail system instead of simply sending a message to president@whitehouse.gov.

The new system involves navigating a list of menus and queries, which the White House says will help the US Government provide "timely and substantive" replies.

However, following news of the changes, the White House website has made the president's e-mail address more prominent, to make sure people knew it is still available.

List of options

The new webmail maze starts off by asking people to declare whether their message is a "supportive comment" or a "differing opinion".

Messages must then be categorised under a specific heading, such as homeland security or volunteerism.

An option on the White House website
Citizens must choose whether they wish to agree or disagree
A sub-heading must also be selected, so anyone with something to say on foreign policy, for example, must state which issue or country they are concerned about.

Only Afghanistan, China and Iraq are currently available for selection, although people can make a general submission about foreign aid or human rights if they wish.

E-mailers must also provide their full name, address and e-mail address. There is no option for international addresses, so those outside the USA will have to rely on tried and tested methods.

To ensure the president gets the submission, people must finally reply to a confirmation message sent to them.

White House officials have described the new system as an enhancement, designed to improve communications and help government staff deal with the huge numbers of e-mails sent to the president everyday.

If you want to take a more direct approach, then you can still send an e-mail to George W Bush at president@whitehouse.gov.

Vice President Richard Cheney can also be contacted directly via vice.president@whitehouse.gov.

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